Incarnation

December 13, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Incarnation, John | 7 Comments
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December is a great time for Christian parents to talk with our children about some of the great theological concepts associated with Christ’s incarnation.

Jesus’s conception in Mary’s womb was the first and only time that God has taken on human flesh and entered our world as a man. He never stopped being God, nor did He even temporarily set aside His Deity, but He did veil His glory in becoming fully human while remaining fully God. He did this for many reasons, chiefly so that He could accomplish our redemption through His sinless life and sacrificial death, but also in order to identify with all our human frailties as our Great High Priest. Obviously, you will want to use simpler terminology, but even very small children can understand the basic concept of God becoming a man.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

I John 4:2

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Luke 1:35

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:22-23

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

Galatians 4:4

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Romans 8:3

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:14-15

Next time I will discuss Christ’s Advent.

Our Kids Are Not Good Kids

February 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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As Christian parents we must talk to our children about some hard truths and difficult subjects that are page one headline material in the Bible, even though it might be tempting to shield our children from these truths when they are very young. The temptation is there because, in our sentimentalism and worldly conception of “love,” we do not relish the idea of giving them information that might make them uncomfortable. However, they need to know, understand, and believe that:

1. You are not a good kid.

According to the Bible, children come into the world as simple, but not virtuous. They are ignorant, but not innocent. As parents we don’t want them to be “wise” ABOUT sin, but we do want them to be humbled by the truth that they ARE sinners.

Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Psalm 58:2-3

We think of using these verses about wickedness when witnessing to strangers (and we should), but look at Psalm 58:1 and see to whom they are addressed: “the congregation” (which would include the children of God’s covenant people).

The Bible makes it clear that children are not exempt from the classification of “wicked sinners.”

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

Why is it so important for our children to understand that they are not inherently “good?” Because we want them to be looking for a Savior, not a participation trophy. We want them to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, not to hear that they have something about which to be proud. We, as their parents, are charged with the task of utterly convincing them of the absolute supremacy of God.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

As a Christian father, I do not want the children that God has entrusted to my care to have self-esteem; I want them to have “God esteem.” I do not want them to have self-worth; I want them to recognize God’s worth. Children will not naturally want to admit they are evil, but it’s true. They are not basically good – they are basically evil – just like Dad and Mom. They will love God more truly and deeply when they understand that they themselves are not the initiators, nor the instigators, of God’s love for them. We ONLY love God because He first loved us. And He ONLY loves us because He is love.

Next time we will face another difficult truth for children.

Get the L out of There!

March 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The “world” is often the Bible’s word for the ungodly system of this world, which opposes Christ and His Kingdom.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

I John 2:15-17

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

I John 4:4-5

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:5

When we are trying to make disciples of Christ, we should, as quickly as possible, try to get those who are showing an interest in the Gospel message out of the “world” and into the Word.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Matthew 13:22

Worldly cares and concerns can crowd the truth of the Bible out of a person’s mind.

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Mark 4:19

However, we must not let the animosity that exists toward the Word in this world keep us from diligently getting out into the world as evangelists and witnesses and missionaries.

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

John 17:6

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:14

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

II Corinthians 5:19

Christ Himself is the Living Word of God, and His mission to reconcile lost and otherwise hopeless sinners to the holy God was and is accomplished by the power of His Word.

Finally, we need to make sure that we keep the “world” out of the Word. The canon of Holy Scripture is closed, and our complete Bible in 66 books is sufficient to show us everything that God wants us to know about Godly living and the plan of redemption in this life. We must not let the transmission of God’s Word in our day be corrupted by faulty modern translations, by extra-Biblical false prophecies such as the Book of Mormon or the NWT Bible used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor by the influence of referential texts of false religions such as the Koran.

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalm 12:6

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 4:2

LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Psalm 119:89

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19

Only one little letter makes the difference between “world” and “Word,” but that letter could have an eternal impact. We need to:
1. Get out of the world and get into the Word.
2. Get the Word out into the world.
3. Get the world out of the Word.

The Addict (Signs of Addiction)

November 9, 2012 at 10:19 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Outcasts of Ministry | 4 Comments
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Outcasts of Ministry: The Addict, the Slave, and the Man Who Fell Out of Church

Last time we contrasted some of the characteristics of the worldly addict with those of the ministry addict.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

I Corinthians 16:15 (emphasis added)

Now we will look at the signs of addiction:

1. A strong, almost overwhelming urge to engage in a certain behavior

But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing,

Galatians 4:18

It would certainly not be good to be zealous in your affections about crack cocaine. It’s not good to be zealous in your affections about your outward appearance. But it is good to be zealous in your affections about ministry – because ministry is a good basis for addiction. In the world, you are an outcast if you are addicted to the “wrong” thing, and you’re popular if you’re addicted to the “right” thing. But these views of “right” and “wrong” are fleeting and fickle. Sometimes sexual addiction is seen as titillating or a sign of virility – until it ruins someone’s life or someone’s marriage. You might remember the “heroin chic” phase, when the media glamorized the emaciated bodies and dark eyes of runway models who used drug addiction as a means to stay thin.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/head.jpg?w=270

Some addictions seem pretty cool until they go too far and make the addict an outcast. Likewise, an addiction to ministry might cause unbelievers to cast you out – but God won’t consider you an outcast for it.

2. Feelings of low self-esteem

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Philippians 2:3

A drug addict or a compulsive over-eater has low self-esteem because he doesn’t think he’s worth anything. A ministry addict has low self-esteem because he believes that serving Christ is worth everything. The message of the world is “believe in yourself,” but don’t you buy into that vain philosophy! In America we love to talk about our “rights” and entitlements – that we think we deserve as individuals. But that’s a false view of freedom. Real freedom comes when we become so addicted to ministry that we give up our “right” to be first, and esteem others better than ourselves.

3. Drawing away from the normal activities of daily life

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

II Timothy 2:4

One of the dangers of even seemingly-harmless worldly addictions (that favorite TV show that you just can’t miss, for example) is that we become too entangled with them to have time for ministry. Ask someone who is serving active military duty in a combat zone. A soldier ready for battle at any moment can’t say, “Hold off on the fighting for a couple of days – I just started fixing up my car.” He can’t say, “I just met this new girl and she’s all I can think about right now.” Soldiers have to be focused. They can’t afford to be addicted to “fun” things. A worldly addict may find himself dropping out of polite society because of devotion to his addiction, but a ministry addict is someone who is in the world (which is the battleground of spiritual warfare), but not of the world. Nothing should capture our affection, our adoration, or our attention more than the work of the Lord.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

4. A feeling of euphoria, or pleasure, while engaging in the addictive behavior

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

Psalm 111:2

The worldly addict gets a physical “kick” out of his addiction. That’s one of the big problems with addiction. Addicts build an immunity and need more and more of the object of their addiction. Many scientists believe this phenomenon is caused by chemicals in the brain. The truth is, God understands our need for pleasure – for a good feeling or satisfaction in the works we do. But Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. One of the quickest ways to grieve the Holy Spirit is by exposing His presence in our bodies to the false pleasure of sinfully carnal pursuits. The worldly addict can never be satisfied, but he can get brief pleasure from feeding the flesh with the object of his addiction. The ministry addict, however, surrenders to the Holy Ghost and takes pleasure in those things in which He takes pleasure.

What’s the one thing that the Holy Ghost really longs to do?

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

Glorifying the Lord Jesus is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. What can we do to be used by the Holy Spirit to do that?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:11-13

Stephanas ministered to the saints – to other believers. By so doing, he glorified Christ Jesus, and pleased the Holy Spirit of God. The worldly addict seeks a short-lived artificial high, and makes himself an outcast in pursuing it. The ministry addict seeks an eternal lasting pleasure – the pleasure of the Holy Ghost who dwells within him.

Only Jesus

October 3, 2012 at 9:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments
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And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

I John 4:14

Could God have sent anybody else to be the Savior of the world? No, nobody else could have done it – only Jesus. What are some of the things Jesus did that no one else could do?

1. He left Heaven to come to this earth, being born in humble circumstances. No one else could do that, because all other beings are created. Jesus was not created. He existed in His Heavenly home for all eternity.

2. He left the supreme throne of the universe to walk in this lowly world, and He saw sin and the hurt that it causes from a unique perspective. All human beings are sinners ourselves, and we see sin and pain through a cloudy lens of self-interest.

3. He was able to love and save His worst enemies – even those who wanted to kill Him. As mortal sinners, we are sometimes nice to people that we like – or even to people we don’t know. But to people who hate us? Not so much. And certainly not to people who would want to kill us!

4. He brought forgiveness of sins and the only true peace that troubled souls can experience. No one else could forgive our sins because everyone else has their own sins. Jesus did not. He was and is the the perfect sinless Son of God. Only He has the power to forgive sins.

5. He spoke words of eternal absolute truth. When we try to comfort someone who is hurting, our words are not always helpful. Jesus’s words have special power. They are always true. If you believe them, they have the power to make you “whole,” and to make you righteous before God.

6. He opened the eyes of the physically blind and the spiritually blind. Jesus showed us the true nature of God.

7. He cared about people’s needs comprehensively. You do not have a need in your life that Jesus cannot meet.

Jesus was the the King Who came to serve, rather than to be served. He obeyed His Father perfectly. He loved us perfectly. He is the King over all kings and the Lord over all lords, and yet He came to die for you and me. Despite our lack of worth and intrinsic merit, we are important to the King. It is one thing for someone powerful and wealthy to meet your physical, material needs – to give you presents or money. But dying for you is way more than giving gifts or money. Jesus doesn’t expect you to earn His love or forgiveness. We could never do that anyway. He wants us to obey Him and live for Him, which is the best thing in the world for us.

Reverence in Marriage (Part 1)

June 1, 2011 at 10:33 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 10 Comments
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Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:25-33, emphasis added

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

“Reverence” in Ephesians 5:33 is translated from the Greek word “phobos,” meaning “fear.” It might sound contradictory to you as a wife if I tell you that the Bible commands you to both love and fear your husband. However, fear does not cancel out “agape” love, which was described in a previous lesson. Think of it in terms of how you love God. We are commanded to love God and to draw close to Him. Drawing closer to God always brings greater love and fear.

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:34-40

The Pharisees had a theory that if they could know which commandment was the greatest, then they could keep that one and be right with God, and thereby earn eternal salvation. Jesus tells them that “agape” is the greatest commandment. Think about why this is. For one thing, it is impossible to sin while exercising true “agape.” “Agape” seeks to show kindness and to move the other person to righteousness.

When I John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear, the Bible is not contradicting itself. The fear that is being cast out by perfect love is the fear of no longer being right with the person who truly loves you. When I love my spouse perfectly, then my spouse’s insecurity about her “standing” with me is cast out. In other words, perfect love casts out fear of loss of the relationship.

This will be further developed in Part 2.

Discipleship Lesson 9: The Holy Spirit

May 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, John | 38 Comments
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I. Where is the Holy Spirit?

He dwells in the temple of your body if you are a Christian, having taken up permanent residence at the moment of salvation.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:16-17

Only Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:5-6

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

II. How does the Holy Spirit work?

A. He “reproves.”

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

John 16:7-8

He reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment. “Reprove” is a better description of what He does than “convict” or “convince,” although the meanings of both of those words are included in it. “Reprove” (as in “a reproving look”) contains the idea of both anger and sadness (grief), and the idea of the bringing to light of guilt or shame. The Greek Word is elegcho (from the same root word as “elegy,” which is a song or poem of lament). To “reprove of sin” means to show that something is wrong, to show that it is to be rejected, and to show that it is to be condemned.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

That’s a good Scriptural example of “reproof” – which includes convincing and convicting.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10

The devil accuses with an eye toward condemnation, but he is not the only one who makes Christians feel bad about sin. The difference is that his condemnation drives you away from God. God’s reproof brings you back to God – and He does this reproving in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

B. He is involved in creation.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

Job 33:4

C. He is active in regeneration.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:5

D. He seals Christians as children of God.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

I know I am going to Heaven because of my new-birth experience, and because of the Scriptures, but also because God’s Spirit dwells in me permanently. One day He is going to Heaven to be with God forever. Therefore, I must go with Him.

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

E. He bears witness of the salvation of Christians.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 8:16

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:13

F. He teaches the Bible to Christians.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

G. He intercedes for Christians in prayer.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

Neither saints who have died and gone to Heaven (including Jesus’s mother, Mary), nor angels intercede for us in prayer.

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Ephesians 2:18

H. He is our Comforter in times of need.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:16-18

The Greek word for “Comforter” in this verse is Parakletos. It means “a helper who comes alongside and an advocate who stands beside you and speaks on your behalf.”

I. He empowers Christians to serve God.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

Ephesians 3:16

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6

J. He gives Christians discernment in decision-making.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2:14

In one sense, the Holy Spirit acts as an antenna or receiver: He helps Christians stay attuned to the Truth of God and filter out the false.

III. What does the Holy Spirit do?

He produces spiritual fruit to the glory of God.

The Christian’s job is to bear fruit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to produce fruit. God has graciously given us responsibility, but He keeps ultimate control. Spiritual fruit has seeds within it. It brings joy when shared. It brings glory to the Gardener.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

The Holy Spirit’s job is not to glorify the Holy Spirit. His job is to glorify God in what God has said, and to glorify the Person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, our job primarily is not to glorify the Holy Spirit in worship, but to glorify God and magnify Jesus Christ.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25

Spiritual fruit is “singular.” These character qualities are part of the same process and fruit.

IV. Questions

A. What are the nine character qualities which are called the fruit of the Spirit?

The first three are “inward:”

1. Love: We must love God in order to truly love others.
2. Joy: Our joy must be in Christ or else the best we can hope for is only a circumstances-dependent temporary happiness.
3. Peace: We can’t have peace with others without peace in our own souls – and we can’t have either one of those without first being at peace with God.

The next three are “outward:”

1. Longsuffering: This involves bearing patiently the issues of dealing with others.
2. Gentleness: This involves dealing with those issues tenderly.
3. Goodness: This involves choosing to deal with others the right, instead of the wrong, way.

The last three are “upward” (toward God):

1. Faith: This involves believing that God is Who He says He is, and that He will do what He has said He will do.
2. Meekness: This involves understanding that God is everything, and I am nothing apart from Him.
3. Temperance: This involves being yielded in our attitudes – being even-keeled (being a thermostat, not a thermometer).

B. Can a person be a Christian without the Holy Spirit?

No.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Ephesians 4:4-5

C. What is more important for a Christian:

1. You getting more of the Holy Spirit?
2. The Holy Spirit getting more of you?

Answer: 2

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

Being filled with the Spirit is not a matter of finding where the Spirit is and hoping to be filled with Him. It is a matter of emptying out of self, vanity, and worldly, fleshly junk – so that He fills every room of your heart.

V. Memory Verses
A.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

B.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

C.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

Mysteriously Meaningful Marriage Part 2

April 27, 2011 at 10:28 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Biblical Marriage | 9 Comments
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Last time I showed that Christians are supposed to love their spouses the same way that Christ loves His bride, the Church. The Greek word for the type of love wherewith Christ loves the Church is agape. Agape love is Christian love because it operates in truth and not just in feelings.

Where will the right kind of marital love come from if God is not central to the marriage? Agape is the giving of self.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved [agape] me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20, emphasis and parenthetical agape added

“But,” some have replied, “my spouse is just not worthy of that kind of love.” What better way to show agape love? We should seize opportunities to love the unworthy.

Will agape love always be reciprocated? Not always, but more often than not, it will.

We love him, because he first loved us.

I John 4:19

If it is not reciprocated, Christ is still glorified when we love selflessly.

Agape love is antithetical to cruelty. Cruelty is caused by bad feelings. But will there ever be a time in marriage when we don’t have some type of bad feelings? Cruelty is bad feelings untempered by love.

In marriage will there get to be a time when there is never a lack of affection? Lack of affection is not the result of bad feelings as much as the result of an absence of feelings. Lack of feelings means an absence of motivating love. Resentment; selfishness; an unjust sense of entitlement: these things are inescapable in a marriage. But they are not really a major problem unless they outrun love. True Christian love – agape – is just that: actively loving the one who does not deserve love.

For the person who is married, here is a good working definition of “love” to always keep in mind: True love is a giving of oneself for someone else with two main goals in view:

1. That the person being loved receives grace and mercy.
2. That the person being loved is directed more toward righteousness (toward conformity to Christ).

Remember what Jesus told the woman who had been caught in adultery after all her accusers had left because none of them had been willing to throw the first stone at her. Jesus told her to “go” (grace and mercy) and to “sin no more” (directing her toward righteousness). This definition makes sure that our understanding of the 4 “S”s of marriage does not lead us to the conclusion that we should be hard to live with on purpose in order to help the other person be more like Jesus.

Agape is not getting. Agape is giving. We must be willing to give up things for our spouses, even if they won’t give up things for us. We must make sure we are giving to meet our spouses’ needs, but not in order to get our selfish desires met as trade-offs for what we are sacrificing. Loving someone who does not want to be loved is hard. Crying babies hate it when Mom scrubs their face with a washcloth, but we would not think that a mother who never wiped food, snot, and dirt off her child’s face really loved that child.

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Mysteriously Meaningful Marriage Part 1

April 1, 2011 at 8:28 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Biblical Marriage | 46 Comments
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When the Bible uses the word “love” for the way spouses are supposed to treat each other, it is a translation of the Greek word agape (pronounced uh-GOP-ay). There are different Greek words which can be translated as “love,” but agape is the one we call “Christian love.”

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:24-32, emphasis added

A “mystery” in the Bible is not something we’re never supposed to think about it, and it’s not something to be solved.

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It’s something that God has withheld the fuller revelation of, but is about to be revealed by Him. In Ephesians 5:32 God uses the Apostle Paul to reveal a mystery concerning marriage. Marriage had been around since the time of Adam and Eve, but the full revelation of what it meant had not been revealed until Ephesians 5:24-32. The revelation is that God always intended marriage to be a picture of Christ and His relationship to and with the Church. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, not only in the salvation of individuals (in that He pursues and “takes” a bride), but in that He loves His bride. Christians are supposed to love their spouses the same way that Christ loves His bride, the Church. Therefore, we need to know what kind of “love” is the love of Christ. Obviously, His type of love will be the best type of love. The Greek word for love resulting from relationships, especially familial relationships, such as parent-child and brother-sister is phileo. The Greek word for the type of “love” that is tied to physical passion is eros.

But agape is sometimes translated as “love” and sometimes as “charity” because it is more than just a feeling. It is an active love. It is love in motion. It is true love because it operates in truth and not just in feelings.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love [agape] of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love [agape] toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:5-8, parenthetical agapes and emphasis added

For God so loved [agape] the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16, parenthetical agape and emphasis added

Agape love is the love of God when He gave His most valuable Gift: His Son.

Beloved, let us love [agape] one another: for love [agape] is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love [agape]. In this was manifested the love [agape] of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

I John 4:7-9, parenthetical agapes added

In Part 2 I’ll show some very practical applications of the mystery of true marital love.

The “Ways” to Remember

May 19, 2010 at 9:51 am | Posted in Biblical Remembering, I Corinthians | 12 Comments
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And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I Corinthians 11:24, emphasis added

Previously, I noted that it is amazing that we have to be told to remember Christ. I also mentioned the importance of remembering His Person – Who He was and is – and Who He will be always. We must remember Who He is, what He does, what He did, and what He’s going to do.

We must not “forget to remember,” so we need to talk about the “ways” to remember. Not the “ways” meaning “means” or “methods” or “techniques.” Not really “how” to remember. But “ways” in the sense of “follow His ways.” Train up a child in the “way” he should go – not his route home – but the way he is to live.

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

I Corinthians 4:17, emphasis added

Imagine a pastor saying to the congregation, “I’m leaving, but I’m sending you a new pastor. You’re going to like him. He’s a good fellow. He’s going to remind you of me, and he’s going to continue my ways.”

“How arrogant!” we might think. “What do you mean, ‘your ways’ – what about Jesus’s ways?”

But that is essentially what the Apostle Paul is saying in this verse: “Listen to Timothy. He’s going to remind you of my ways – which are in Christ.”

Is it wrong to want to be so much like Jesus that our ways remind people of His ways? We are often so afraid of responsibility that we are quick to try to deflect criticism by saying, “Give me a break – I’m not perfect!” Trust me, if you’ve been involved in very much Christian ministry, it’s unlikely that anyone really thinks you are perfect – especially in the sense of being sinless. However, we ought to be striving to be better than we were before we were saved. I ought to be a better Christian now than I was ten years ago. In fact, I ought to be better than I was last week. I ought to be blameless (Philippians 2:15). “Blameless” is not faultless. When my children write letters to missionaries, there are mistakes in the letters. The letters aren’t “faultless.” But they are “blameless.” Our “ways” should make it hard for people to know a great deal about our own personal likes and dislikes. Do you know certain mature, Spirit-filled Christians, who, when you think about them, you think about Jesus? We must decrease, so He can increase. If the thermostat isn’t set to my perfect satisfaction and I’m a little cold or hot in a room full of people, so what? Does everybody have to know I’m hot or cold? If someone is kind enough to serve me a hot dog, do I have to make it known that, in the future, I would like mustard instead of ketchup? What our opinion is on everything that’s not related to the Kingdom of God is really not that relevant most of the time. We need some folks whose ways have to remind us of Jesus – because they no longer have their own ways.

“… [A]s he is, so are we in this world.” Those are the nine words that end I John 4:17, and they make a wonderful outline: three words in each of three sections.

As He Is: There’s only one thing I can think of that Jesus ever was, but that He’s not anymore, and that’s “dead.” He is certainly alive today! We can remember Him and remember His ways by walking with Him right now.

As He is, So Are We: We can be like Him. In fact, with His imputed righteousness covering up our iniquity – with His blood buying us access into the Holy of Holies in Heaven – we are like Him, in a sense, right now. He is in us and we are in Him.

As He is, so are we, in this World: Even now, in this modern Sodom and Gomorrah, we should be able to say to our children and to new Christians, “Follow my ways – because I’m following His ways.

This do in remembrance of Him – and make your ways remind others of His ways.

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